Players Abroad: Bayern Munich’s Niki Cross
The Our Game Magazine entourage took a journey to Germany last week and found FC Bayern Munich’s Niki Cross. We caught up with the 2012 Pokal Cup champion, who is one of a select few Americans who have ever played for Bayern Munich.
Name: Niki Cross
Birthday: May 30, 1985
Hometown: Pembroke, Massachusetts
Current Team: FC Bayern Munchen
Previous Team: Boston Breakers
How did you come to play for Bayern Munich this year?
I spent the month of November traveling around and had tryouts with different German clubs. I have always wanted to play in Germany because I have both German and U.S. citizenship. Bayern was the best fit for me.
What has the experience been like so far? What have you learned about soccer? Being in a foreign country? About yourself?
My experience has been has consisted of some extreme ups and downs. At first, I had a really hard time adjusting because I suffered an injury after being in Germany for only 10 days. I had surgery and spent the next few months doing rehab. This made it harder to be part of a new team, never mind being part of the starting line up. I thought I would be cheering on my team in the Pokal semifinal, but with some injuries the week before the semifinal I found myself starting and scoring two goals in first 10 minutes. Living in a foreign countries teaches you independence and confidence; you have the chance to recreate yourself. You don’t have your family or friends for around, but you get the chance to explore the world and step out of your comfort zone with new people.
What do you miss most from home?
The two things I miss the most are my family and Chipotle. Im thinking family dinner at Chipotle the second I get off the plane.
What was it like to win the German Cup beating one of the best teams in the world in the process?
It’s by far one of the best accomplishments of my career. It is just now starting to sink in. Im very proud of my team and how we played. We went into the game with a lot of confidence after a win over top-ranked Duisburg and totally disregarded the fact that we were the underdogs in the final. This time last year I was merely a bench player, and now I’m a Pokal Champion.
You recently signed on for two more years with the team. What were your main reasons for staying?
Bayern has felt like home ever since I signed in January. Our team is something special and I wanted the chance to continue playing with them. Not only do I love the club, but the city itself is just a place I enjoy living.
What things do you do in your spare time?
I try and explore Munich as much as I can. I think it’s important to try and absorb as much as the culture as I can while Im living in Germany. It’s a city with such interesting great history. We often go to support other FC Bayern teams, both the men’s team and men’s basketball team.
Can you talk about playing styles in the different countries you’ve played in – Sweden, the U.S., Australia, Norway, and now Germany.
I have played for so many different coaches, with some many different philosophies, but over the last few years, everyone tries and mirrors the style of Barcelona. Every coach has at some point brought up how Barcelona plays, whether it’s defensive or offensive. Germany is one of my favorite places to play, and I think the style of play is more fitting to me than in other foreign countries I’ve played in. Bayern is a mix of technical skill and physical strength and fitness. Even some of the players who are not tactically smart have far superior technical skills than me.
What is your favorite thing about Germany so far?
My favorite thing about Germany so far was attending the Champion League final. After winning the Pokal final, Bayern gifted the women’s team with tickets to the CL final. Unfortunately, Chelsea won.